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Bald Barbie | A Good Idea?

January 16, 2012

Barbie is blowing up these days. Have you noticed or is it just because I have an almost four-year-old who is all consumed with Barbie’s cute outfits and bouncy ponytail? It was a Barbie Christmas around these parts. And while some of my mom counterparts may object to what Barbie represents, I am completely and 100% ok with letting my daughter play with Barbie.

But, this isn’t a fem post about whether or not Barbie dolls are acceptable toys for girls. I don’t get that worked up – over much – and certainly not about perfectly sculpted dolls.

barbie and friends

And now there has been a huge Facebook petition to get Mattel to create a bald Barbie doll. I’ve read a couple of articles on the matter and I stand conflicted.

bald-barbie-doll

I want to be on the “we need a bald Barbie” train but here I sit shrugging my shoulders and wondering what the big deal is. I think children suffering from hair loss should at the very least have a toy they can identify with. When I went through chemotherapy, I felt like an outsider. I was going through something that none of my friends had or were experiencing. It was completely isolating and lonely. So, from this perspective I think a child suffering from hair loss might benefit from a doll like a bald Barbie.

But…

When you’re bald, at least in my personal experience, it’s the last thing you want to be reminded of. Really. On the flip side though, I can completely understand how a young girl suffering from hair loss who played with a regular Barbie doll might feel some resentment towards the “image” Barbie represents and in turn develop a worse self-image of herself.

Is a bald Barbie the answer?

I don’t know. I wish there was an easy answer. I guess I’m leaning toward the idea that creating an environment of understanding and acceptance is better than a toy. I’d rather see a series of books written for children with these special afflictions. Or children and tween programs regularly featuring a child who is bald. I believe that an image of a bald child in mainstream media would make children suffering from the same disease feel less isolated.

rally-for-a-cure

Have you liked the “Beautiful and Bald Barbie” Facebook page or do you think there is a better alternative? Comment and tell me what you think!

photo source here and here

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{ 20 comments… read them below or add one }

Rebecca January 16, 2012 at 12:24 am

I feel exactly the same way.thanks for sharing.

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Wendy January 17, 2012 at 9:39 am

Of course! From one sister to another!

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Suzanne January 16, 2012 at 4:28 am

“I’d rather see a series of books written for children with these special afflictions. Or children and tween programs regularly featuring a child who is bald. I believe that an image of a bald child in mainstream media would make children suffering from the same disease feel less isolated.”

Yes! That is a really great idea. A Barbie is a static object that kids create a story around. There’s no context. A character on a popular kid’s tv show would be shown interacting with his/her friends and family just like any other kid and the fact that they are bald could be shown as something that happens, not something to be scared of or excluded for.

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Wendy January 17, 2012 at 9:39 am

Thanks for commenting Suzanne!
“Static object” love that!

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laura January 16, 2012 at 7:21 am

I’m not a cancer survivor and have never suffered hair loss. However, as a military wife I do go through things that many can or will never relate to. In this I can understand the need to want something or someone that can understand your situation. Then again, there are times that you don’t want to be reminded of your situation. I can definitely relate to the conflict you feel towards this doll.

I love your idea, though, on mainstream media showing the face of a bald child more often. The more we as a society put light on something, the more “normal” and accepted it become. Not just for the sake of the child who is suffering from hair loss to feel like they can be accepted, but also for the other children who do not know what something like this is or feel like to have a better knowledge of it, and hopefully to can feel more comfortable and not do the stop and stare jig.

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Wendy January 17, 2012 at 9:38 am

Maybe I should start a Facebook petition page asking for more mainstream media images! Thanks for coming by Laura. In fact, I have a totally off topic question for you that I’ll email. :-)

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Heather January 16, 2012 at 7:40 am

I had not heard of the bald Barbie until reading this post… I suppose because I am not there yet. My girl is still into “babies.” I don’t really have opinion on this, however, it it helps a young girl who is going through chemotherapy then it’s great. In addition, I would suspect that that this will open the door to conversation and further understanding for the kids who no nothing about cancer, hair loss, simply because they haven’t experienced it (either personally or through friends and family). I agree with you on the books. There should be more children’s books written… Wendy, want to add “children’s author” to your resume? 😉

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Wendy January 17, 2012 at 9:37 am

I’d love to add that to my resume! How awesome would that be? There are very few books out there – that I’ve seen – tackling the subject of cancer. But then I struggle with the idea that I’d be making money off this awful disease. Unless I donated it…hmmm, wheels turning.

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Nicole January 16, 2012 at 10:14 am

I agree with you 100%. When I played with Barbies growing up it was my Fantasyland, escape and world of make-believe. None of them were anything like me with the fab hair, amazing clothes and to die-for accessories. Maybe Barbieland should just remain a very happy place for little girls where they can leave everything behind for a bit and all is cupcakes and roses.

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Wendy January 17, 2012 at 9:35 am

This is so perfectly said and I wish I would have written it myself. Yes, when a child plays his/her world becomes one of make-believe. Why would we want disturb that wonderful place with a very real reminder. Good stuff, Nicole!

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Leslie January 16, 2012 at 10:47 am

Thanks for sharing your perspective, Wendy. When I first heard about the Facebook page to persuade Mattel to create the bald Barbie. I immediately liked it. I liked the idea that an iconic figure like the Barbie doll can show that a woman is beautiful with or without hair, and no matter her circumstance. (Which then just begs the question of the point of Barbie any way because I know that I try to teach my daughter about beauty coming from within and not being so much about outward appearance. But our culture fights me every step of the way on that one!) But I think you are right. We need to do more than just create a doll. And I agree that you would be a perfect children’s book author.

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Wendy January 17, 2012 at 9:33 am

Thanks for the vote of confidence, Leslie!
And your bring up a good point – beauty from within. If we taught our girls that beauty does truly come from within – bald or not – a child wouldn’t need a doll to tell them they are beautiful.

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Nancy's Point January 16, 2012 at 11:25 am

Well, when I saw your tweet, I just had to come and take a look because I blogged about this same topic today myself!! It’s really something of a tidal wave this facebook campaign some have become so passionate about. As for me, I say no thanks to Bald Barbie. Guess you’ll have to stop by and read my post to find out why! Thanks for making me think about this some more. I love a good discussion, even about Barbie.

Here’s a link. Thanks for allowing me to share it. http://nancyspoint.com/do-we-really-need-a-bald-barbie/

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Wendy January 17, 2012 at 9:31 am

You brought up some very VERY great points! Love reading the other perspectives on this topic! Thanks Nancy!

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MommaKiss January 17, 2012 at 8:06 am

Thank you to periwinkle papillion for sending me your way! My very best friend is now one year out of her bc diagnosis and is doing well. It’s not metastatic like yours, but stage 3 required chemo and radiation. I remember similar feelings from her, re: being bald. She didn’t want to bring attention to it.

I’m glad I’m here and will be back!

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Wendy January 17, 2012 at 9:30 am

Hey MommaKiss! Glad you came by and thanks to Perwinkle Papillion for sending you my way. But first to clear things up…I don’t have metastatic disease (didn’t want my friends and family to read your comment and freak out). Thank goodness for that! Just good ol’ stage 2 and currently NED. I’m glad to hear your friend is doing well. I bet she’s still trying to get her energy back. Ugh – so glad those days are behind me!

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MommaKiss January 17, 2012 at 10:50 am

Oops. Caught me skimming, sorry. But – I’m NEW! I’ll be better. And congrats on your progress girl!!

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Sara @ Periwinkle Papillon January 17, 2012 at 10:15 pm

I’m SO glad you two finally met! :)
Now we are all need to walk in the 3-Day together :)

Bald Barbie… I don’t know. But I do disagree with your comment above Wendy about not thinking about becoming a children’s author because of earning money from it. I think you need to turn it all around and view writing a book like that as something that would help people like only you can and it would be perfectly acceptable to earn a living doing that. (That’s my opinion!).

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Jennifer January 17, 2012 at 12:30 pm

I wonder if anyone has asked a bald child what they want.

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Practical Parenting March 30, 2012 at 3:47 pm

I like that people are taking this issue into consideration, but I’m not sure that Barbie is the answer. I’m not a huge fan of Barbie, more because of the blank look about her…she looks like she’s lacking in brains and personality. I would rather see American Girl take this on…

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